As a San Francisco bay area resident, I visit the city of San Francisco at least three times a week. Over the years, I’ve watched the homeless population rise. Like many people, I’ve walked hurriedly to my destination trying to ignore the homeless people on the street. But over time, I just could not ignore it anymore. City streets reck of urine and feces while large numbers of homeless people sleep in doorways and beg for food.
Sadly, there are even more homeless people in San Francisco who work full-time jobs, live in shelters, stay with friends or sleep in their cars. If any city had a homeless epidemic, it would be San Francisco. If you need evidence to back up my claim, listen to this highly informative National Public Radio (NPR) talk on May 2, 2018 by San Francisco Tourism’s Joe D’Alessandro who Comes Clean About Dirty Streets and the Homeless Crisis in San Francisco.
As a psychologist, I decided to take action and develop a small intervention that would not only help feed low-functioning homeless people, but also empower them to:
- Get up off the street,
- Organize themselves enough to locate and walk into a restaurant,
- Place an order for food and select the food of their choice,
- Experience the respect and dignity of a paying customer,
- Be responsible for a gift card and determining the remaining balance.
The restaurant that I selected needed to sell gift cards and offer food that was:
- Easy to carry
The restaurant also needed to be:
- Open 24 hours,
- Easily accessible,
- NOT sell alcohol or cigarettes.
Subway’s fast food restaurant seemed to fit my plan quite well. As an additional benefit, paying customers at Subway are allowed to use the restroom. Low functioning homeless people usually urinate or defecate on the street so using a toilet is a luxuryand gives the person the opportunity to wash their hands and clean up before eating.
After reviewing the cost of meals and considering my intervention, I decided to purchase $20.00 Subway Gift Cards to be distributed to low-functioning homeless people on city streets in downtown San Francisco. So far, I have spent several hundred dollars over the past month on Subway Gift Cards and it has been a rewarding yet touching experience.
Most people tell me that they are afraid to give money to the homeless for fear of perpetuating the problem. However, after sharing the details of my intervention with Subway Gift Cards many people have opened their hearts and mind to giving to the homeless.
We cannot wait for the government and other institutions to help solve the social problems that we face. We must take action as individuals to create change. Helping low-functioning homeless people is how I decided to take action.
I encourage each one of you reading my article today to either join me or develop a well-thought out plan to help people in need!
About the Author
Dr. Christine E. Dickson is a clinical psychologist in private practice. She is the owner of Tri-Valley Psychotherapy where she offers consultations and therapy both virtually and face-to face. Christine is a regular guest on local TV where she provides self-help advice to nearly 200,000 viewers. Her work is also featured in Wikipedia, the world’s largest online encyclopedia. To learn more about Christine, please see her website.